Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that his company is working on bringing the internet to the two-thirds of the world that doesn’t have access to the internet. They intend to bring them internet access by using solar powered drones, satellites, and lasers, in a move that will put them in direct competition with Project Loon, a project to that will also bring internet access to places that don’t currently have them using balloons, which Google announced in June 2013.
Zuckerberg hasn’t revealed a lot of the details of the new project, but it comes on the heels of last year’s announcement of internet.org, which is a collection of major technology companies that are working together to lower the barriers some people have to internet access, using methods like making it cheaper to get internet access on cell phones. According to the Facebook founder, it has already helped more than 3 million people get access to the internet.
They are bringing in some of the top experts in aerospace and communication technology to help with their drones, including experts from NASA’s Ames research center and jet propulsion center, the goal is to have as many as 50 of the best space and aeronautics experts working on creating a solar powered drone that can stay in the air for months at a time. Facebook is also planning to buy Ascenta, a company that created the Zephyr drone, which is the record holder for the longest flying unmanned solar powered aircraft.
While the cost of delivering internet access to areas that don’t have any is currently very expensive, Facebook is looking for a way to deliver it cheaply with the drone and newer low-earth orbiting satellites. This project is still in the initial stages, and still faces a lot of obstacles, but if it can be achieved, it will not only boost Facebook’s stock, it will allow the whole world to connect to the internet.